Sustainability Tips

Check out these ideas for how to live, learn and work sustainably on campus. Big or small, your actions add up—so try one of these tips today!

Energy Conservation

  • Turn off the lights. So basic—yet so effective!
  • Set your thermostat between 68-76°F.
  • Close the windows when you leave.
  • Energy Star identifies energy-efficient products and other ways to save energy—and money!
  • Check out a Kill A Watt© device from the U-M library to see how much energy your devices use.
  • Leave space around radiators and vents. If they are blocked, the system may run more frequently to achieve the desired temperature.
  • Learn how to minimize the carbon footprint of events, such as by hosting a virtual event.
  • For U-M staff:
  • For labs:
    • Shut the sash on fume hoods when not in use.
    • Consider purchasing an efficient ultra-low temp freezer when time for replacement or setting to -70°C instead of -80°C.


Ride the bus, ride a bike, carpool, walk—there are lots of options to reduce the environmental impact of getting around. Check out U-M’s alternative transportation resources.

Waste Reduction

  • Give a little love to the first step in the time-honored saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Buy in bulk to reduce packaging, bring a reusable bag, use a reusable mug, and ask yourself before making a purchase whether you really need it.
  • Know where to throw! It’s important to place items in the right bin because contamination can cause an entire batch of recycling or compost to be landfilled.
  • Make your next event zero waste.
  • Visit Property Disposition and local thrift shops or browse online marketplaces for used items.
  • For U-M staff:
  • For labs:
  • Be familiar with regulated recycling, campus items that must be recycled such as batteries, bulbs, and U-M electronics.
  • Reduce electronic waste by using rechargeable batteries. This battery calculator can help you estimate the payback period.

Sustainable Food

Protect the Huron River Water Quality

  • Don’t put anything except water down storm drains, which carry storm water to local waterways. That means no motor oil, detergents, litter, or fertilizers.
  • Keep an eye out for fluid leaks from your car and address any that arise.
  • Pick up after your pet. Pet waste is raw sewage.
  • Report on-campus spills or dumping to DPSS.

Everything Else

  • For U-M staff: consult U-M’s sustainable purchasing guide to buy items that are environmentally preferable.
  • Sustainable Computing provides advice on energy efficiency, print reduction, and e-waste recycling.
  • Make your next phone, computer, or TV a greener pick by consulting the EPEAT ratings from the Consumer Electronics Council.